To bobbitt: short for to depenistrate

WHEN Lorena Bobbitt cut off her husband's penis last June, little could she have known that her behaviour might bring her immortality, thanks to the dictionaries of the English-speaking world, in much the same manner as another famous cutter, Dr Guillotin.

The verb 'to bobbitt' - in common use in the American media - probably would have faded faster than the scar tissue of Mr Bobbitt's organ, now sewn back on and, by all accounts, in goodish working order. But subsequent events may force the word into the American Webster's Dictionary. The Virginia bedroom amputation of eight months ago has been repeated with disturbing frequency elsewhere. British dictionaries are taking note.

Last month in the city of Taichung, a Taiwanese wife bobbitted her husband with a pair of scissors after learning of his affairs with other women. Chien Liu-liang, 51, was sentenced to two years' imprisonment - on the face of it, harsh retribution compared with Lorena Bobbitt's fate (45 days in a mental institution).

But whereas Mrs Bobbitt flung her husband's organ through a car window, Chien Liu-liang flushed Yao Kuan-jung's down a toilet and allowed him to bleed to death.

Alcohol appears to trigger bobbitting. The Taiwanese couple had been drinking on the day of detachment, as had a Turkish victim whose case was reported last month in the newspaper Hurriyet. Abdullah Kemal Konak, a garage security guard, was 'too drunk to resist' when his lover Zeynep Atici bound his hands and feet. Earlier he had threatened to leave her for another woman. Bent on ensuring the intended relationship be forever platonic, she bobbitted him and went on the run. Mr Konak has since had a four-hour operation. Next, Lee Chu-pom was found bobbitted and dying in low temperatures outside a South Korean motel north-east of Seoul a week ago. Mr Lee, 42, was a welder. The hospital doctors who tried to restore him were not. But had they succeeded in rejoining him to his penis, he might have died anyway - from exposure. Mr Lee, whose wife has been questioned but is said to be 'not under suspicion', had drunk a bottle of soju, a local spirit, before the attack - described by the newspaper, Choun Ilbo, as 'Bobbitt Syndrome' and 'the dawn of the age of reckoning' for men in Korea's male-dominated society.

Then, Germany. Heidemarie Siebke, 51, is on trial in Frankfurt-an-der-Oder for hyphenating Hans Kampioni, 56, a suitor. First, she said she did it; then she denied it. 'I am a calm person,' she says.

Mr Kampioni disagrees. 'She went crazy and began punching me and hitting me with a chair,' he said. She then bobbitted him with a kitchen knife and set fire to his apartment. The severed penis will be in court as prosecution evidence. Mr Kampioni has since complained of memory loss, although he recalls drinking heavily before suffering his anatomical loss.

A recent article in the Washington Post about spontaneous regeneration of lost body parts says that by introducing a a certain gene a spare may be grown 'if a part of the anatonomy is bobbitted'. The Ottawa Citizen urges students to learn how to cope with 'bobbitting'. The Washington Times praises former US president George Bush for 'the bobbitting of both Saddam Hussein and Manuel Noriega'.

Will the word last? Peter Gilliver, associate editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, says: 'We are fairly passive about it. If 'bobbitt' turns up in several different stories over a period of time, this suggests it should go in the dictionary.'

The OED includes, for example, 'to bork' (after Clarence Bork, Ronald Reagan's US Supreme Court nominee who failed to make it), meaning to blackball somebody for unsound views. 'To kennedy' is also there, though listed as obsolete. It means to strike someone with a poker, a reference to an event that gained notoriety in 1823.

Asked to define 'bobbitt', Anne Seaton, of Chambers Dictionary, says: 'It's a woman's violent and vengeful removal of her partner's penis. Perhaps one might call it 'depenistration'.' Richard Thomas, of Collins Dictionary, is more cautious: 'We collect 8,000 new words a year, of which a tiny proportion gets into the dictionary. There's no point in speculating about 'bobbitt' just yet.'

After Dr Guillotin's contraption was introduced in France, the mob (traditionalists at heart) sang: 'Give us back our wooden gallows / Give us back our gallows.' But 'guillotine' adhered through frequent usage. A similar fixative may preserve 'bobbitt'.

(Photograph omitted)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
News
news

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney 'denied all knowledge' of the Twitter activity

Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
Life and Style
View of champagne glasses at a beach bar set up along the Croisette during the 66th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes on May 17, 2013
food + drink(and for now, there's a clear winner)
News
The author PD James, who died on 27 November 2014
people

Detective novelist who wrote Death comes to Pemberley passed away peacefully at her home, aged 94

Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
arts + ents
Life and Style
tech

Sites using the popular Gigya comment platform were attacked by the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA)

Extras
indybest
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Argyll Scott International: 2x Service Desk Analyst

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Argyll Scott International: Service Desk Analyst Re...

Langley James : IT Project Manager; 6 month FTC; Brighton; £400p/d

£400 - £420 per day: Langley James : IT Project Manager; 6 month FTC; Brighton...

Langley James : Web Developer; PHP, MySQL, Java; Blackfriars; £25k

£25000 per annum + training: Langley James : Web Developer; PHP, MySQL, Java; ...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Manager - Holiday Homes - £100,000 OTE

£40000 - £60000 per annum + £100,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: Birmingham, Derby, L...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?